Radiohead – The King of Limbs – Album Review

20 Feb

 

* Brief Intro *

I traversed the old and treacherous forest path with careful footing and a steadfast swagger. While other human souls did exist every now and then along the path in this preserve, none of them where tuned into the show, not that they were fly enough anyway. With my random assortment of color, complemented by the length of my hair and the aviators covering my eyes, I stumbled with precision on the haphazardly placed stepping planks. I also was the only one, I think, who was aware of the festivities. All around green party-animals were getting drunk off sunlight and dancing to the beat of the breeze. I would stop to socialize, but I was an important guest. Like a peacock feigning bliss, I took the turn off the main path and climbed my way up the mountain, god knows what assumptions would be made if anyone saw. As I entered the hall, familiar bark faces greeted me, and as I made my way up to the majestic giant oak which resided in the center I was greeted by his booming voice. “Finally!” a brief chuckle, “The witness has arrived!!! Now let’s turn this party into an epic!!!” bellowed the Tree King.

* End Brief Intro *

And I thought I was the only person who talked to trees. It seems like Radiohead has proven me wrong, with their latest album The King of Limbs. I guess I’m going to have to find something else which is alt (alternative).

The title of the album is named after a tree which is located somewhere in the Savernake Forest in England, and according to the internet is one of the oldest tree’s in Europe. My tree is more gangster though. But I guess all woods have their respective kings and queens, and since now its the cool thing to do *sigh* get acquainted with your local forest king/queen today! Magic will help.

The sign's gotta be legit.

Apparently the whole album has been put up free to listen by the band  HERE
So listen to it while you read. Aren’t they a bunch of nice guys?

Basically, this album is amazing, and not like listen to it a few times and you get into it amazing. By my second listen, I’m sitting here typing this and rocking the heck out. It’s everything you loved about their previous albums, but in the future.

What I mean by this is that Radiohead is using cutting-edge elements of dub-step and even trip-hop in their songs. A friend of mine pointed out on facebook that it seems very Flying-Lotus influenced. I completely agree and it makes sense considering how they are on the same label and Thom Yorke has been featured in a Fly-Lo song. And the dub-step makes sense since they are British.

The very first song on the album, Bloom, showcases the Fly-Lo influence perfectly. While it opens up with some traditional Radiohead sounding synths, it quickly introduces a beat that normally would make no sense, but because of the way it is looped fits very well. Thom Yorke’s vocals then finish the song, with beautiful layering and harmonics, a trend that will continue throughout. A very experimental first song which pays off heavily.

The next song, Morning Mr. Magpie, goes in the completely opposite direction with a most basic dub-step beat, which is only truly revealed half-way through. At this time, the band chooses to implement what I like to call a chill-down (As opposed to a Hardcore Breakdown). The beat continues, while most of the other instruments cease playing, resulting in a sort of dreamlike sequence or bridge. This is very masterfully done, and, with a name like Morning Mr. Magpie, I’m pretty sure this song also is alluding to the British psychedelic era.

That is until you listen to the next song, Little by Little. The song sounds like something that was made in the 60’s and ripped entirely. The singing is actually the only thing that exposes the song’s true time period. It’s a modern day take on a 60’s style, absolutely proper experimentation on Radiohead’s part.

I don’t know the name Feral, or the ruthless trip-hop beat, but I’m pretty sure that this next song is my favorite off the album. This song captures perfectly that sort of mystic and eerie vibe which I have come to absolutely love. Something between the non-existent vocals, the unrelenting drums, and that one short synth riff that plays only a total of three times, absolutely sells me. Oh, and when it ends with that bass riff, even if but momentarily, just forget it. I’m going to write a whole post one day about the merits of outros, regardless the length.

The next song Lotus Flower, I personally believe is a reference to Fly-Lo. What I believe stands out in this song, while hard to notice since they are not the focal points, are the guitar and the background vocals. I enjoy the small things in music. Another very good song by all standards. Oh, and there’s this…

I cannot stress enough how much those dance moves speak to me. They are awe-inspiring.

The next two songs Codex and Give up the Ghost I refuse to review, the reason being that I have always been traditionally biased against Radiohead’s slower pieces. I have nothing against the quality of the music, it’s just my own personal preferences don’t allow for a sincere positive review. Basically they bore me to death and tread towards depressing. The only redeeming part in my book is the bird noises transition between the two songs. But don’t let me sour them for you; I’ve heard from a few online sources that people actually consider the last three songs to be the best off the album, so it honestly depends on your tastes.

And in that case… moving on to the last song Separator, the drum & bass line seem promising off the bat. The vocal’s teeter on falling into the same category as the previous two songs, but once the guitar comes in I’m thoroughly pleased to say that this song is an amazing, chill, vibe-out tune. A pretty synth kicks in and the album ends on a very light, mysterious, and optimistic note.

One word: Professional.

I said earlier, but just to re-iterate, the album is amazing.

If I had to scale it I would give it a 6.84/7.25

This has been my first ever song-by-song review of an entire album. The rating scale is here to stay and I might explain it at some point in the future, but right now I need to stop listening to this album on repeat before I kill it for myself.

Happy listening! And don’t forget to talk to trees now that it’s mainstream… conformists.

&D

P.S. Apparently there is crazy amounts of conspiracy that this is only half the album and that the psychical LPs have two records in them. I mean, the last line of the last song is “If you think this is over, you’re wrong”. This post might have a part two… just saying.

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2 Responses to “Radiohead – The King of Limbs – Album Review”

  1. Nebehcs February 20, 2011 at 7:40 pm #

    A weird and fantastic work for sure. The album chugs along with Four Tet style broken jazz beats, that, when combined with Radiohead songwriting creates an atmosphere only RH build.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Radiohead – Ahead of the Music Business? « The Music Court - February 22, 2011

    […] of that song is “If you think this is over, you’re wrong,” as Okocim pointed out in his review of the album. I smell Beatles’ intelligence. Some fans have created a theory that the album has a part two […]

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